When Christopher DeVries arrived home from school, there was a simple message stuck to the refrigerator: Be here when I get back from work, we have to talk. Mom. The door had been purged of expired notes and grocery lists to make the message stand out. She had even thought to use the little magnet shaped like an exclamation point to pin it up.
Oh terrific, Christopher thought to himself, what did I do? He racked his brain a moment, which yielded little. Christopher was not the trouble-making type. He tended to be an increasingly lackluster student, easily bored and prone to daydreaming, but they were only two weeks into the new (his last) school year. Finally, he shrugged, and went to his room to lose himself in Zork until his mother returned from work, not, for the moment, overly worried. It might not be about him at all.
About five thirty that evening as usual, Christopher heard the familiar crunch of tires on gravel, soon followed by the front door.
“Chris?”, Janet DeVries called, but not too loudly. There was nowhere in a mobile home that one needed to speak much above conversational volume to get somebody else’s attention.
“You saw my note?”
“Okay, come on out of the cave babe, we have to talk.”
Wow, she isn’t wasting any time, Christopher thought. He sighed (quietly), saved his game, and punched the Stop button on his stereo. Girls On Film came to a jarring halt, and he trudged out into the living room to face whatever obviously unavoidable unpleasantness was in store for him.
His mother was slipping off her thick-soled walking shoes, the unflattering but comfortable kind worn by women who spent their working days on their feet. Nurses and waitresses, mostly. His mother was one of the latter. Janet was a pretty woman in her late thirties, smallish, with a compact, no-nonsense, but still distinctly feminine frame. In defiance of fashion, she sported (at the moment, her mood would certainly change sooner or later) a snug, brown pixie cut, which made her look nearly youthful.
“Hi hon. Couch, please.” Christopher slumped down on the side near the tv, but not so heavily as to suggest defiance. No point in fanning the flames.
Janet dropped her purse on the coffee table, and took her seat opposite, leaning back and sighing with obvious relief. She crossed her (long) legs, which made the fairly modest pink waitress’s skirt ride up a little on her (smooth, taught) thighs with a (to her son) deliciously soft little cotton-against-nylon sound.
Christopher groaned inwardly. It seemed he couldn’t help it, noticing these little sensual details about his mother, even under duress. Now is hardly the time for that, he told himself.
“So, something that just can’t wait, huh?” he ventured, trying to make it not sound cheeky.
His mother shrugged. “No point in waiting. Well, maybe for a minute.” Christopher’s mother leaned over to open her purse and did something that made her son’s world spin wildly out from under him.
Janet pulled a lighter and a pack of cigarettes from her purse. And not just any cigarettes. These cigarettes were (to Christopher, for certain reasons) intimately familiar. The overlength, off-white pack with stripes of tan and gold down one side marked these smokes unmistakably as Virginia Slims. The ultimate women’s cigarette.
His mother withdrew one from the pack, lit it precisely in the center of her puckered lips. She drew inward, and just before the crest of the deep drag, she snapped the cigarette away between the tips of two long, graceful fingers, finished filling her lungs, then exhaled a long exquisite stream of smoke into the waning sunlight filtering through the window behind them. It was a simple sequence of actions, enacted millions of times a day throughout the world, and burned into Christopher’s mind forever. The first time he watched his mother smoke a cigarette. It was a beginning.
Janet looked at her son with a Mona Lisa smile, and gave a little laugh. “Just like riding a bicycle. Oh, I guess I’ll need an ashtray.” She got up and rummaged though the kitchen cupboards for a few moments before returning with a shallow saucer. “This’ll have to do I guess.” She took another drag off the long, white cigarette, not as luxurious as the first, but also less self-conscious, and flicked in the makeshift ashtray. She held the cigarette up in front of her. “I quit when I found out I was pregnant with you. Well, that was one of the things I quit. I’d forgotten how much I’d enjoyed it. ” and then to her son, the sardonic smile notched up, “Is my smoke going to bother you, hon?”
It was a teasing challenge, but completely beyond Christopher’s ability to process at the moment. He knew something was very up though, and replied carefully, for his throat was unaccountably parched, and his heart was hammering in his chest like it wanted out. “I didn’t know you ever smoked, mom.”
His mother tisked. “Now that is a lie, which brings me the the first issue. “Well,”, Janet relented, “I guess it’s not really too much of an issue. Some mothers might think so. Anyway, I found that box of yours in the closet a couple weeks ago. You know, the one, with all the pictures and stories? Sexy stories about mothers and sons? Cigarette ads you ripped out of my old womens’ magazines? Old pictures of me?”
The world shattered around Christopher and rained down on him in icy shards. Liquid nitrogen coursed through his veins. He’d felt light-headed before, but passing out was now a very real threat. A shoebox filled with a painstakingly gathered collection of erotica, as he defined it. Stories of incest, mother and son incest, clipped from underground porn magazines spanning several decades (and Penthouse Letters, of course). His own stories, from his heart to fanfold paper via Commodore 64. Images of mature women, running the gamut from quasi-tasteful Playboy-like spreads to hardcore. Cigarette ads featuring mature female models (Virginia Slims, of course, a particular favorite). And, most damning of all, photos of his own mother from her younger days (a few of which did indeed confirm that she had, for a time, smoked cigarettes). It was a box of dark delights, the distilled essence of the very outer reaches of eroticism, and the center of his fantasy universe.
He had buried it under stacks of old clothes and forgotten comic books. He had been so careful, he thought. So cunning. It had all been for naught. The ultimate Doomsday Scenario had occurred: his mother had found The Box.
Christopher was far beyond words, but his expression must have spoken volumes, because his mother waved her hand dismissively. “Hey hey hey, relax honey. It’s okay I’m not mad. Really.”
A tiny glimmer of light flared in Christopher’s blasted mind, like a sudden, impossible blip on the screen of a flatlined heart monitor. “Wh…wha…”
Janet shrugged. “You’re not the only only kid who’s ever came down with the hots for his mother. It happens. Or so I gather.” She took a casual drag on her cigarette and leaned over to the coffee table again to flick. “You know, I read all those stories. They’re really very…” Janet searched for a moment, “…passionate. Loving, even. Sort of. Especially yours.” She winked at him. “But that’s really not what I want to talk to you about, at the moment anyway. We’ll get back to your oedipal issues. What we really need to deal with your school work, babe.”
Christopher blinked. School? His very heart laid bare with its darkest, most forbidden incestuous yearnings spilled out in front of his mother and she wanted to talk about school? It was beyond comprehension. The world continued to pitch and list.
“Yeah Chris, school. I got a call from your principal the other day. You know, Mrs. Hearndon? She told me your teachers are telling her that it’s two weeks in the semester and you’re already daydreaming in class or doodling in your notebooks or doing whatever except what you should be doing. ”
So this really is about schoolwork, Christopher thought to himself. Not a pleasant subject, but familiar at least. He began to gain a little footing.
“Mrs. Hearndon actually called you?
“Sure honey. She’s your principal. You damn near flunked out last year, and she knows your smarter than that. I know you’re smarter than that. You know you’re smarter than that, don’t you?”
“Yeah mom, I know, I just…I get so bored. Multiplying fractions and conjugating verbs…it’s all so dull. I’d rather think about anything else. ”
“Anything else like that stuff in the shoebox?” his mother asked, the smile creeping back a little.
Uh oh, not that again. “Um, maybe occasionally.”
“More than occasionally, if I know young men. And I do.” A deep drag on her cigarette and Christopher’s mother was all business again. “But flunking out, honey, there’s no excuse for that. Not from you. And it sounds like the way you’re going that’s just what’s gonna happen. But that’s not what’s gonna happen. In fact…” One last drag, and Janet crushed it out on her makeshift ashtray. “…I think you’re going to ace this year, babe. I think.” She folded her legs up onto the couch so she could face her son, and propped her head up on her fist. She stared at him with a thoughtful expression. “Drink.”
Christopher brain flashed non-sequitur. “Mom?”
Janet laughed. “Gonna need a drink for this one, babe. Be right back”. She headed of to the kitchen, and returned with a generous glass of whiskey, from which she knocked back two strong slugs before setting down. And she lit another Virginia Slim. That didn’t even surprise Christopher. He was beyond surprise, or so he thought.
“Much better.” She took a deep drag. “Okay, pay attention, honey, here’s the deal. It’s tempting to beat around the bush, so I’m just going to go for it. I’ve thought a lot about this situation, and I’ve decided to handle it my way, as usual.”
Christopher was bewildered, but sensed a climax approaching. He was rapt with attention.
Janet looked straight into her son’s eyes. The heat was overwhelming to Christopher, but somehow he returned her gaze steadily. His mother’s smile was deadly serious. “For every test you bring home,” she began slowly and carefully, “with a B…now I’m talking about a major test here, not just a pop quiz or something…for every test you bring home with a B grade, I’ll do you a favor, a favor begins with the letter B. Now think, honey, what kind of favor could I do for you that begins with ‘B’? What kind of a favor could a mother do for a son that has the hots for her that begins with the letter ‘B’?”
The bomb dropped. A big one. The big one. Christopher could hear it’s whistling decent in his head. He got a crazy smile on his face. “Oh my God mother…”
“That’s right, babe, B is for blowjob. For every B you bring home on a test, I give you a blowjob.”
Ker-wham! The bomb hit. His mother had just offered him blowjobs for good grades. He’d never so much as heard her say the word. Even the pretense of composure was unthinkable. Christopher had to white-knuckle the couch to keep from tumbling off.
“Hang on, we’re just getting started. If you’re not too freaked, keep listening. For every A test you bring home, I’ll do you another favor. A bigger favor. Now, what kind of favor begins with A?”
Christopher rolled his eyes. “Jesus mom, I don’t know! You’re gonna drive me crazy!”
“Come on hon, humor me and play along. Think. What sexual favor begins with A? This one is kind of tougher, but how many choices do you have left?”
“Uh, uh…” Christopher stammered, his thoughts and emotions streaking wildly. “Ass?’
“Oh.” his mother replied thoughtfully. For all her weeks of thought and consideration, the subject of anal had never occurred to her. “Well, maybe. Yeah, that could be on the menu, if you promise to be gentle. Anyway, what I really meant was A means ‘All’. For an A on a test you get it All from me, for one night.”
Christopher plateaued. He was now physiologically incapable of greater levels of surprise, and the euphoria was beginning to give him a certain clarity of thought.
“You, for a night, for an A?”
“Full vaginal intercourse, my love. Sex. Fucking. All of the above.”
Christopher exhaled, awestruck and vastly excited at the implications. “This is incredible, mom. It’s like one of my stories. I mean, I can hardly believe I’m hearing this.”
“Well, I can hardly believe I’m saying it.”, Christopher’s mother replied dryly. “But I am, and I mean it. And there’s more, even.”
“What’s that?”, Christopher asked dreamily.
“Make the honor roll this semester, and I’ll let you sleep with me over Christmas vacation. My bed’ll be our bed. That sound nice?”
“It sounds…like a dream, mom.” Christopher shook head slowly. “Feels like one.”
“Oh, and there’s one other thing. You can hardly be expected to concentrate if you’re horny, so, once a day, I’ll stroke you off.” She helpfully made the accompanying motion with her fist over the crotch of her skirt, as if her son might not be certain what she was talking about. “No grades needed, just for a, I dunno, study break.” She grinned,.
There followed pregnant silence. Mother and son looked each other over, trying to read the opposite’s thoughts. Janet smoked her cigarette, and sipped her whiskey. Her son watched her. Finally, she decided to break the ice.
“So, that’s the deal. Are you going to take me up on it, or did I just call your bluff?”
Despite how whiplashed Christopher felt at that moment, the “bluff” part irked him a little.
“So what does ‘C’ mean? Cunt?”
He regretted dropping the c-bomb immediately, but his mother didn’t bat an eye.
“Hah. You’re so cute. A ‘C’ gets you a nice pat on the cheek, and best wishes for next time. B or better, honey. Nothing you can’t handle..” She dragged heavily on the cigarette, “…with the right motivation.”
Christopher smiled and shook his head again. “No bullshit, mom?”
‘No bullshit, babe.”
“This is so not normal.”
Janet shrugged. “When have either of us ever been normal?”
“Yeah, but this is like above and beyond. You’re talking about…” Christopher lowered his voice, as if profanity was still taboo at this point, “…fucking.”
Janet shrugged again, and sipped her whiskey. ” Well, you’re old enough that I don’t have to worry about screwing up your psyche. Too much, I think. As long as we remember I’m still your mom, and nobody comes down with any guilt-trips, but neither us are the guilty type. I think it’ll be dirty fun. It’s gonna be fun teasing you.” She grinned impishly.
“I had no idea you were this dirty, mom.
“Well you still have no idea,” Janet smirked, ” but it looks like you’re beginning to find out.”
“If anybody gets wind of this, we’ll both be up shit creek.”
Janet exhaled a sharp jet of smoke. “You got that right babydoll, so whatever happens we better both make damn sure it stays between us.”
Another thoughtful silence.
“So when does it start?”, Christopher asked.
“When you say the word. Did you bring any books home tonight?”
Christopher shook his head with a sheepish smile.
“Are you going to bring any books home tomorrow?”
“Think I’ll bring them all home tomorrow.”
Janet leaned back on the couch with a checkmate smile. “That’s what I thought.”